You love sex toys, we love sex toys, but just like with any relationship, they require some maintenance! So this raises the question, can sex toys give you an STI? Short answer- yes! BUT, before you go too far, you can only get it if your partner is carrying an STI and doesn’t properly clean their toy after using it.

Well, let’s back up for a second. What is an STI? It’s a group of sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes that spread via bodily fluids or skin-to-skin-contact.

So, the way you contract an STI is: “If there’s blood, semen, pre-cum, vaginal secretions, or another bodily fluid on the sex toy of person A with a fluid-borne STI, and then the sex toy comes into contact with the mucus membranes of person B, person B can contract the virus.” - Healthline

That being said, you can prolong an STI outbreak by not properly cleaning your sex toy! Yup, no partner required. Additionally, you not only can pass and contract STI’s but also other infections including bacterial vaginosis, UTI’s, and other forms of bacteria.
K, now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about some easy steps to keep you feeling safe, balanced, and satisfied. Here’s how to play responsibly:

Keep them clean!

Whether you’re sharing your toys or using them for solo play, it’s important to wash them before AND after each use. Handwashing with warm water and a toy cleaner usually does the job, but be sure to double check the materials of your toys to avoid damage (more on that below). Also, check for any cuts or scratches in the toy, as they could collect bacteria and increase your risk of getting an infection. 

Dry your toys!

We want you to be wet, not your toys. After cleaning your toy, to avoid bacteria from accumulating, pat it dry with a paper towel or leave them out to dry. Also, storing them in a cool dry place or protective pouch in between uses is a sure way to keep them extra clean!

Use protection.

For penetrative toys, enjoy them safely by covering them with a new condom to prevent passing along STIs and bacteria. This is a great hack if you’re not totally into the task of cleaning every time. 

Toy materials matter!

For porous sex toys, a simple soap and water wash won’t entirely clean your toys. (We recommend a toy cleaner to ensure your toy is as clean as possible) Also, a good rule of thumb is to use non-porous sex toys with a partner.

Examples of porous sex toy materials:
*Use condoms when sharing and clean with sex toy cleaner.

  1. Latex
  2. Thermoplastic rubber (TPR)
  3. Jelly rubber
  4. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Examples of non-porous sex toy material:
*Use a sex toy cleaner for quick cleanup. 

  1. Silicone
  2. Glass 
  3. Metal

Keep things organized.

Having specific sex toys for partner play vs solo play helps keep things in check. Setting boundaries in any type of relationship can elevate each individual experience. Having toys set aside for yourself and some for your partner can make things more special and intimate.

Further Readings

Can You Get an STD From A Vibrator: Bustle
Everything You Need to Know About Sex Toys and STI’s: Healthline



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